Q My dad and bonus mom, who were married for more than 20 years, have recently divorced. I am getting married next month, and my bonus mom, who remains a huge part of my life, is part of the wedding party. I am at a loss as to how to introduce her at the reception. My mom will walk in accompanied by her significant other, but it doesn't seem appropriate that my dad and bonus mom walk in together. Now that they are no longer married, how do I introduce her at the reception? "My ex-stepmother" sounds ridiculous and reduces her to next-to-nothing status. I've always called her my bonus mom, but now that she is no longer married to my dad, that doesn't seem right, either. What's good ex- etiquette?
A Bonus is a state of mind and heart and is not dependent on marital status. The term is an alternative to "stepmother," which relies on a marriage certificate, but unlike "step," you don't necessarily stop being bonus when your parent and bonus parent break up. Ending bonus status is up to the person who calls you bonus.
Your dad and this woman are no longer together, but it is apparent that your relationship with her was based on your mutual admiration for each other and that has not changed now that she is no longer married to your father. Therefore, if you referred to her as your bonus mom while she and your dad were married, it's proper to continue to refer to her as such now that they are divorced if that is what you choose. It's up to you because you were
You have mentioned that your father and bonus mom will walk in separately as they are introduced at the wedding reception. That is the best choice under the circumstances, but if you would prefer they are accompanied by someone for the introduction, ask an extended family member who was not in the wedding party to accompany them.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of "Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation" and the founder of Bonus Families, bonusfamilies.com. Reach her at drjannblack email@example.com.